The Secret System

The Secret System Fishing:
As anglers we all dream of the undiscovered: a Shangri-la with lush valleys and pristine rivers where fish far outnumber footprints.In the realm of North American steelhead fishing, these places are few and far between. But in the fall of 2005, with the help of a local BC outfitter, a crew from Fly Water Travel found and fished precisely such a place – with great results.

The Secret System Travel:
To get to the modest camp on the Secret System you will need to make travel arrangements to and from Smithers, BC via Vancouver, BC. Week long packages run from Monday to Monday. You should plan to arrive in Smithers on the Sunday evening flight and plan to depart Smithers on a Tuesday morning flight. At the airport you will be met by one of expediters and transferred to the Stork’s Nest Inn. . Note: You will be responsible for making these reservations and they are not included in your package price. Please call them ASAP to make this reservation at 250-847-3831. For drinks and dinner we recommend walking two blocks to the Alpenhorn Bistro. It is great place and a big steelheader hangout.The following Monday morning you will be transferred to Tyee Lake for the 1.5 hour flight into the lodge.

While you may be able catch the Monday evening flight out of Smithers on your departure date, we would recommend booking another night’s stay at the Stork’s Nest and flying out the following Tuesday morning as weather related delays are common when heading in and out of the lodge’s remote wilderness location.

The Secret System Fishing Program:
The Secret System is the uppermost of the Skeena River’s significant tributaries and has remained largely unknown due to its exceedingly remote location. The BC government has issued a meager 50 rod days to the river, meaning that no more than eight anglers will able to fish the system for a week each season. The Secret System is a small high elevation stream that is crossable in a number of locations under normal flows. The valley is a combination of willow and spruce and ringed by impressive snow clad peaks. Located at 3,300 ft. elevation it is 1,000 -1,500 ft. higher than most of the popular Skeena tributaries, and fall comes early. The river has a strong glacial tint but fishes well with limited visibility. Water temps will typically range from 46 to 37 degrees. We have done well with dries in water temps as low as 40 degrees. The river is ideally suited to fly fishing and has numerous classic pools and runs with open backcasts. The top three miles of the river seems to have the highest concentration of productive water but there is an endless supply of fresh water downstream awaiting serious hikers. Fish enter the system the first week of September and over-winter until their spawn in May.

Secret System fish respond well to dry flies and streamers alike and the entire river can be fished effectively with floating lines if one so desires. Our initial trip to the river yielded excellent catch rates of fish that averaged just over 11 pounds, with several fish in the high teens and low 20’s. Through past reports and some personal encounters we feel that fish in the high twenty to low thirty pound class are present. All Secret System fish are wild and must be released unharmed as quickly as possible. Regulations mandate use of single barbless hooks.

Fishing this river is best suited to physically fit anglers who are capable of hiking at least three hours a day over semi-rugged terrain.Groups of two or three anglers will be accompanied by one or two armed guides. While signs of bear are evident they tend to be shy as they are hunted actively by other lodge clients.

The Secret System Accommodation and Meals:
The lodge is the most rustic operation we represent and resembles camping in wooden tents. Anglers will sleep two or three to a cabin, and with groups of three, one member will be in a top bunk. Bunks have foam pads and pillows but anglers need to bring their own sleeping bags and towels. Bunk cabins have a simple table, benches, a lantern and a wood burning stove that client will maintain. Water is available from a spring fed source outside the main lodge cabin, a primitive shower is available as is warm water for it when requested, and there is a simple outhouse. An electrical outlet is available several hours a day to recharge cameras and the likes.

Meals are prepared in the main cabin by your guides. They tend to be very simple and served on the late side. Please feel free to bring along your favorite pre-meals snacks, as well as energy bars for the longs days spent on the water.

Note: Clients are responsible for bringing their own beer and alcohol. If you need ice, bring some of that along too! This can be bought in Smithers the night before or in advance by your outfitter by special arrangement.